It was Wednesday evening when Sourabh came & asked to go out of Delhi on Weekend. Immediately everybody started looking at him & responded yes in a very strange way. This reaction was not due to the short notice for outing but everybody was surprised that he is not going home on the weekend. Without giving any thought to this idea, everybody said Yes & then asked where you want to go? Ultimately Jaipur was selected & we planned to leave early morning of Saturday.
We started at 5:30 from Noida & reached Jaipur at 1:00. Don’t assume that it takes 7.5 Hrs for Jaipur from Noida; this was due to no planning & a part of our luck. Saurabh & Ankur brought Kachoris from Ravat(A shop famous for Pyaz ki Kachori in Jiapur) while we were busy in identifying the right Hotel. We had one piece of kachori & one Dhokla. kachori was really good. Then a local boy managed to convince us for showing a Hotel nearby Bus Stand. In a hurry we decided to book the rooms in the hotel suggested by that boy.
Again without any information we thought of going for shopping & asked an Auto-driver to suggest a good market nearby. He suggested Maharani Market by giving a good reason that this market is famous for Rajasthani things & other markets like Bapu market/Indira markets are normal markets, which are far away from this place. We asked him to take us to the Maharni Market. He dropped us outside a big gate & told to go inside. After few minutes we realized that again someone has made fool of us due to the reason that we had no information. Immediately we came out & took another Auto for Bapu Market. We spent 3 Hrs for exploring Bapu Market/Johri Market/Indira Market/Nehru Market & Sanjay Market. We were thinking of one thing that why there is no market called Rajeev Market??? These markets have a unique style where all the shops are of same size/style. Whole market is very symmetrical & a particular street is known for a specific item. Bapu & Johri Markets are the famous markets. You can find Bedsheets, Jaipuri Maharani Saris, Jaipuri Quilts, dupattas, bandhni suits, Rajasthani pagaris etc. As the name is telling, Johri Market is famous for Jewellery.
Now it was the time for leaving towards “CHOKHI DHANI”.
CHOKHI DHANI is around 25 Km from Jaipur. An Autowala will charge 300/- for this place & he will wait for you till 11:30 for coming back to the city. Entry ticket costs 275/- per person & 150/- per child between 3 to 9 yrs in Chokhi Dhani. Chokhi dhani is a ethnic village setup with people skilled in different things. There are dancers, magicians, astrologers, puppet shows, Bailgari, Camel/Hathi savari, Jhoola & a lot of stalls with different entertainment games like Nishanebaazi, local version of Bowling etc….
You can also enjoy hukka & there are experts who could tell you about the technicalities involved.
We enjoyed most of the games there & saw different dance shows. The main part is the Rajasthani food served in the Dinner. Buffet is served on one side & there is a place next to it where food is served to you sitting down on the floor. We preferred the second option & enjoyed the food in traditional style. A lot of things are served in a specific order & you can ask for anything anytime, but most of the times Dhani-people around you will ask to have something. Service is really amazing. Best known Rajasthani food Dal-Bhati-Churma is also served, but for adventurous traveler, willing to experiment, there is a lot of variety available. It includes Dal Pachhmelri, Kadi Besanro , Makki/Bajara Roti, gatta, Bura, Butter, Ghee, Chhachh, Lassi, Papad, Khichadi etc & they call all these items in different way. We enjoyed a lot & the time spent here was the best time during the trip.
Next Day we reserved 4 seats in a private tourist bus for exploring different places in Jaipur. Bus reached at the hotel & we started at 10:00 am. Bus picked other tourists from other hotels & finally we moved towards the first place – Birla Mandir.
Birla Mandir situated just below the “Mooti Doongri”, dedicated to Lakshmi-Narayan. It is just in front of Jaipur Development Authority Building & surrounded by large lush green gardens. Temple has been constructed in white marble. There is a museum in the basement of the temple having some photographs of Birla Family. We spent 30 Mins here & then rushed into bus for moving ahead towards Jamtar Mantar & Sawai Man Singh Museum.
Guide in our Bus showed us Hawa Mahal & Albert Hall on the way, but they didn’t stop the bus. Albert Hall is located just outside the walled city which has always been a place for recreational activities since the reign of Sawai Ram Singh. Albert Hall is surrounded by Ram Niwas Garden & there is very old Zoo opposite to it. We didn’t go to Zoo also. There is rich collection of Paintings, Carpets, Stone/Metal sculptures and colorful crystal works. According to the guide Albert Hall is closed for one year to renovate it. No idea about the exact dates…
Then bus stopped in front of a Gurudwara and guide told us about the Museum inside City Palace. He didn’t come with us to any of the places we visited. We first moved for Jantar Matar & did the biggest mistake by not hiring a guide. It’s simply wastage of time if you go inside Jatar-Mantar without any Guide. Information provided on the boards near different instruments is not sufficient for knowing about the main idea & its functioning. This is one of the Largest & best preserved Observationary out of the five in India. It’s built by Sawai Jai Singh due to his hobby in the field of Astrology & Numerology. I would strongly suggest for planning to explore Jantar Mantar with a Guide. The time we realized that we should hire a Guide; we were late according to the schedule. This was really disappointing for us. Chanrges for a Guide in Jantar-Mantar are 100 Rs for a group of 4 tourists & 20 Rs is the entry ticket for an Indian Tourist.
Then we moved out of Jantar-Mantar & picked four entry-tickets for Sawai Man Singh Museum. One Entry Ticket for Museum costs 40 Rs & you need to pay extra for Digital Camera. This Museum is inside City Palace Complex. City Palace gives an idea about farsightedness of the founder of Jaipur(Sawai jai Singh). He left behind a legacy of some of the most imposing & magnificent architecture, art & craft structure in the city. The City Palace is blend of Mughal & Rajasthani architecture and the Royal Family still lives in a part of the palace.
The Museum inside the palace has a wide array of Royal Costumes, some very exquisite & precious Pashmina shawla, Banarasi Silk Saris, Sanganeri Prints & folk embroidery. There is a separate room having cloths worn by Maharaja Sawai Madho singh 1. On display there are two huge Urns of Silver, said to be the largest silver vessels in the world. There is inestimable collection of weapons date back to 15th century & are in a remarkable state of Preservation. By looking at these weapons we were thinking of the kind of people handling such heavy weapons & level of difficulty to operate them. You need approximately 3 Hrs, if you are really interested to see all the weapons & other things in the museum in right way. Due to lack of time we saw all this in a hurry.
Now we moved towards bus & it was time for lunch. Tourist bus took us to a Dhaba where they had set some commission… After lunch we moved towards Amer fort & suddenly guide started telling us about the famous things of Jaipur like Jaipuri Quilt, Maharani Saari etc & stopped the bus at a shopping centre. The guide introduced us with the manager of that place who told us about the basics of Sanganeri Printing, Jaipuri quilts, Maharani Sarees, Suits etc.
They represented the place as an outlet of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp, where genuine things are available at better prices. Most of the tourists bought different things and we also bought some saaris & suites. Now guide was very relaxed & he was not worried about the time. There was a couple in our bus who spent a lot of time there for shopping & we spent 2 hrs for shopping while this was possible in the evening also. At last we came to know from some people outside that this is a showroom of one of the businessmen in Jaipur & the tourist agencies set their commission for taking the tourists to their place for shopping. Now we realized that we should have booked the seats in Tourism bus. So its always preferred to opt Govt./Tourism buses for such tours. Finally they started bus & we moved towards the hilly area on one side of Jaipur.
Bus stopped on the main road & then we went to the fort by Jeep. Jeep takes 20/- Rs per person (round trip) & it waits for the tourists for going back to the main road. Again guide didn’t come with us. Amer Palace is 11 Km from Jaipur. Raja Man Singh built Amer Palace in 16th Century. Rajputs made use fo Amber Fort from 16th Century up to the foundation of Jaipur in 1727 both for defense purpose as well as the residential purposes.
Within its mighty walls, you will find magnificent places made from marble & precious stones, richly decorated with intricate stonemason works and paintings, which represented the royal splendor and luxury. The fort’s first courtyard is a wide expanse, dominated by two buldings- the pillared red sandstone Diwan-e-Aam(The Hall for Public Audience) and the intricately painted double-storeyed Gate. Beyond these lies a series of pillared corridors, centering around a typical Mughal Garden(Charbagh), bounded on one side by Sukh Niwas and on the other by Jas Mandir, a lovely piece of architecture: delicate mirror work, paint & carving (especially the exquisitely carved jaalis). There is one temple inside the fort & we didn’t saw it from inside due a long queue of tourists.
Then we took the same jeep for going back to the point where our bus was parked. The couple in our bus was again late. At last they came & bus moved towards the city again. Couple was late because they opted to go inside the temple. Now on the way Guide told us about a vatika.. forgot the name… we didn’t stopped there.
Then bus stopped near Jal Mahal for 5 Mins only. Jal Mahal is under maintenance & there is no way to go to the mahal by crossing lake. Jal Mahal in built in 18th Century, in the middle of beautiful Mansagar Lake, the place has the Nahargarh Hills forming its backdrop. Jal Mahal was meant to be used for the royal duck shooting parties. It’s a five storey palace with the first four floors being submerged under water.
Opposite to the palace are the cenotaphs of the royal family.
Now bus entered into a street & guide started telling about a person Called “Kallu Chacha”. According to him Kallu chacha is 138 yrs old now & he has won a lot of prizes for his artistic work. He told that the floating shoe used in bollywood movie “Namak Halaal” was made by Kallu chacha. We had anticipated that now he is going to take us to another place for shopping & finally bus stopped. Yes, we were right, it was a Shoe factory. We went inside & there was no one of the age of 138 yrs. Now we asked the guide about the next plan & he told that we would be going to market for shopping. Then we talked to other people in the bus & asked him to drop us at our respective hotels.
Now it was the time for leaving for Delhi. During the back journey we had good time by talking about the Kallu Chacha, the couple in our bus & ‘World famous’ word which was used by the guide in every alternate sentence. So overall it was a good fun to talk to different persons in the bus & dealing with local people (Auto wala, Hotel guys or the guide…)….
Jaipur is beautiful city & you need time if really interested to explore the monuments, museum & the city.